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Therion - "Les Fleurs Du Mal" (CD)

Therion - "Les Fleurs Du Mal" CD cover image

"Les Fleurs Du Mal" track listing:

1. Poupée de cire, poupée de son Opening Version (France Gall cover) (2:52)
2. Une fleur dans le cœur (Victoire Scott cover) (3:03)
3. Initials B.B. (Serge Gainsbourg cover) (3:44)
4. Mon amour, mon ami (Marie Laforêt cover) (4:36)
5. Polichinelle (France Gall cover) (2:29)
6. La Maritza (Sylvie Vartan cover) (3:54)
7. Sœur Angélique (Annie Philippe cover) (3:06)
8. Dis-moi poupée (Isabelle cover) (3:24)
9. Lilith (Léonie Lousseau cover) (2:31)
10. En Alabama (Léonie Lousseau cover) (2:39)
11. Wahala Manitou (Léonie Lousseau cover) (2:35)
12. Je n'ai besoin que de tendresse (Claire Dixon cover) (2:14)
13. La licorne d'or (Victoire Scott cover) (2:46)
14. J'ai le mal de toi (Betty Mars cover) (2:51)
15. Poupée de cire, poupée de son Ending Version (France Gall cover) (2:34)

Reviewed by on November 21, 2012

"The album sounds like Therion, and despite the fact that these are cover songs, the whole thing feels like an incredibly natural progression from previous album 'Sitra Ahra.'"

Therion has stirred up the pot of controversy with “Les Fleurs du Mal,” scaring the fan base by publically acknowledging the band’s label wouldn’t release the album and starting promotion off with a rather outside-the-norm video for “Je n'ai besoin que de tendresse.” All this was apparently done on purpose, as Therion’s Christofer Johnsson has stated in interviews he wants to get people opposed to the release early, so it will get more press via the mostly-negative internet channels. Throw in the fact that these tracks are covers of French songs, and you’ve got something very unexpected for the fans to digest.

With all the self-induced criticism and claims of massive changes, the symphonic metal crowd justifiably has reason to feel trepidation, but honestly, it’s all a bunch of hot air. The album sounds like Therion, and despite the fact that these are cover songs, the whole thing feels like an incredibly natural progression from previous album “Sitra Ahra.” The French language vocals are actually the biggest change-up, with the remaining modifications to the base sound coming as expected changes, while Therion continues to evolve.

There’s a bit more of a rock vibe here and less of a straight-up metal one, but there’s still plenty of metal guitar work going on. It’s operatic and grandiose like “Sitra Ahra” was, and the singing continues to gain a greater focus on female vocals. As with the last several albums, much of the disc feels like the score to a play or something that would accompany a castle ballroom scene in an RPG. There are actually a couple of oddball tracks, like the carnival themed “Wahala Manitou” or the previously-mentioned “Je n'ai besoin que de tendresse,” with its high-pitched vocals and goofy rock and roll fun. However, considering there are a full 15 songs on the album, the proclaimed differences in style and sound have really been overstated.

The all-covers aspect may be a turn off for fans, but as Ulver has recently shown, a lack of original tracks doesn’t have to drag an album down. It’s also unlikely many U.S. fans will have ever heard the source material, so for many listeners, this might as well be an original album. For those who liked “Sitra Ahra,” or dig a little more rock and roll in their metal, Therion’s latest will continue to satisfy the symphonic metal craving.

Highs: Therion offers a fun rock and roll twist to the standard symphonic formula.

Lows: There's less metal than there could be, and it's definitely not as dark or rooted in the classic Therion sound anymore.

Bottom line: Therion continues its progression into more rock and less metal with this fun all-covers album.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)